Over the next twenty years, Canada is expected to double her population of senior citizens over the age of 64 to ten million, …. and I’ll be one of them. Western Europe and Japan are even further along this path than North America.
In Canada we are seeing a proliferation of assisted living centers where seniors who are still fit and healthy choose to transition from private residence to living in apartments suites with varying levels of concierge service like full housekeeping and meal preparation. As these complexes grow in sheer size, I envision both medical and dental practices embedded into them as their residence population becomes big enough to support a practice and business (dentistry is still a private nongovernment sponsored health profession in Canada). The Canadian winter severely inhibits seniors from accessing services outside of their retirement complexes.
For the past decade, I got a taste of this future. My practice devoted two Fridays a month to delivering comprehensive mobile dentistry to two centers within a 5 km radius. This made it possible for them to access my clinic for difficult procedures like extractions and implant placement. Meanwhile we provided the full spectrum of services: restorative/endodontic/prosthetic/hygiene and select surgery at their retirement center. We carried a mobile x-ray, chair, supplies and a dental unit that combined compressor and vacuum suction, which could be broken down and carried in the back of an estate car.
It was rewarding experience; one that gave us some needed exercise and healthy change of scene but a difficult one to initiate. Most retirement homes are reluctant to allow us entry not quite believing what we are capable of even with a mobile service. But once convinced, they often feature our services when soliciting new clients.
I’ll be giving you some valuable tips on conducting geriatric dentistry and hoping to convince you that this is one future of dentistry that most clinicians are not prepared to embrace. Getting there ahead of others could mean a great difference in your success and satisfaction as a dentist.